DOGS AND DEMONS: Tales From the Dark Side of Japan, by Alex Kerr. Hill and Wang, 2001, 432 pp., $27 (cloth).

An ancient Chinese tale holds that dogs are difficult to draw because they are ubiquitous; demons are easy to create because they spring from the artist’s imagination. Or, to put it more plainly, it is difficult to focus on the mundane and familiar, but quite easy to envision the grand, the colorful and the unique.

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